The Sandman Episodes 7 -10

Still loving Neil Gaiman’s responses to some of the more absurd criticisms of the series on Twitter. After one person slagged off a particular casting, Gaiman responded by saying they’d cast that actor specifically because that person didn’t like them! So its with respect that I open this post about the last four episodes by saying I’m not sure this show is really for me. That’s not to say it doesn’t have impressive moments but something is not connecting. Perhaps betraying that I’d not been paying enough attention to literally everything in this series I found myself a little disorientated by part seven `The Doll’s House`. I had to check I’d not accidentally skipped an episode because matters seemed to have moved on and there’s a lot happening, 



Top of the Pops 23 and 30 July 1987

 Reviewed by Chris Arnsby.

23/07/1987: Simon Mayo: “Hi, welcome. This is Top of the Pops with a live Judy Boucher, an extremely live Shakin' Stevens, and a kind of live Janice Long.”

Janice Long: “Erm, thank you. He is slim. He is sexy. He's stunningly attractive, Boy George”

[26] Boy George: Sold. This is, as Simon Mayo says, a live edition and as always my first thought is to find out what little bonuses are stored on the master tape. There's not a huge amount at the start but what's there is nice. The picture rolls as the VT Clock hits four seconds, and we see Simon Mayo and Janice Long standing ready to introduce the programme. The audience applaud and Janice says, to someone off-screen, “strategically placed I notice.” What filth is this in TC3 at Television Centre?

Jaki Graham, Step Right Up, begins playing through the studio speakers, and the screen blanks out to a 10 second clock which will count down to the titles. It's clearly not 6.59 and 50 seconds yet because the clock holds on 10, and we hear Jaki Graham continue while Janice and Simon exchange some banter about the regional news programmes and continuity which lead into Top of the Pops. “Do we hear continuity?” Simon Mayo asks, apparently sincerely to someone, but the exchange is drowned out by laughter caused by an off microphone comment from Floor Manager Iain McLean. Simon is very concerned about the question of continuity, and asks again a couple of times, he must get an answer from someone off mike, because he then says, “it just begins,” in a slightly awed tone. This is of course his first live edition so he's probably got a touch of stage fright as he contemplates how the programme “just begins” and is beamed into millions of homes. Fortunately, the watching millions never got to hear the chorus of vigorous throat clearing which follows, I'm just glad Top of the Pops isn't being broadcast in NICAM Stereo yet.


Top of the Pops- 9 and 16 July 1987


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby.

9 July : Gary Davies: “It's Thursday night. It's live. We're very hot. Welcome to Top of the Pops. Actually, tonight's show rather like an ABC of pop music, we've got A-ha, we've got Black, we've got the Christians, and we start with Shakin' Stevens”.

[26] Shakin' Stevens. A Little Boogie Woogie. Simon Bates reign of terror is over. I've never been so pleased to see Gary Davies. Even if he does look a little sweaty. Evidentially the place to be on the evening of 9th July 1987 was not studio TC3 at Television Centre. If Gary looks a little sweaty, it's nothing compared to the friends Shakin' Stevens has brought along. Four half-naked and lightly oiled male dancers who leap, point, strut and caper energetically. It's certainly a memorable image. I wonder if the original intent was for Shakey to appear with female dancers and someone pointed out this was a little obvious, and then suggested the reverse. Regardless, showcasing my endless ability to be distracted by trivia I've just spent 10 minutes or so trying to work out what sort of trousers the dancers are wearing. They kind of look like the calf-length, skintight trousers that American football players wear.  Shakin' Stevens lets his dancers do most of the hard work. His knees aren't what they used to be (John- More like Rattlin’ Stevens then?). His main dance move is an air lasso motion. The song itself is king earworm. I went to bed with it rattling around in my skull and woke up with it doing the same. Listen to it at your peril.



The Sandman Episodes 4 to 6


Three excellent episodes explore different moods- and the Sandman finally smiles!

It is interesting to hear that some fans of The Sandman comic book are moaning about changes to the tv series, a perennial gripe of the dedicated. Some even ask why people who’ve never read the comic (like me!) are watching.  I can see their point but tv is a different medium and needs to assert its identity. Also don’t they imagine that at least some of those people might now seek out the comic? I like Neil Gaiman’s response to all this as well- “nobody gets to gatekeep The Sandman” he said. I’ve seen this with fans of all sorts of things, even football teams, where somehow they think they know more than the actual writer or the players or whoever! And if you think this is all to avoid spoilers before the break you’d be completely right..



Film Review- The Phantom of the Open

Genial film tells an unlikely yet true story

In 1976 a Barrow in Furness crane operator called Maurice Flitcroft managed to enter the British Open golf tournament despite not being a professional golfer. In fact, he’d never even played a proper round of golf before. His eventual score became the worst ever recorded in the competition yet made him one of those underdogs that become popular because they try, a sort of Eddie the Eagle of the green. In this genial and often funny account his story is now immortalised by screenwriter Simon Farnaby and director Craig Roberts. The result is an enjoyable tale of  optimism, determination and being a bit sneaky!


Review - The Sandman episodes 1 - 3


Will a TV adaptation of The Sandman be a dream or send us to sleep?

Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed comic book has long been coveted as a potentially great tv series. Well now it’s been made. I’m at a slight disadvantage having never read the comic book so know next to nothing about the story but I do know there are many who hold it dear so forgive any naivete when it comes to unravelling the plot. I should also point out I’m not a huge fan of Gods in drama as their unlimited powers are usually matched by their limited character development. When you can do what you like you don’t really have to be very interesting it seems.



Review- Heartstopper Season One


Is Heartstopper really as good as people are saying?

“He looks like a golden retriever” someone remarks early on in Heartstopper. Actually the whole series is like a golden retriever; eager to please, full of energy, a lot of fun and very cute. Is it really as good as the reaction to it suggests though?. It is definitely one of 2022’s buzz shows, though that said the ratings are not as strong as the reaction. Indeed another shows with a larger audience has been cancelled so it seems that in the streaming age online buzz counts nearly as much as eyes on screen. Yet when serious critics are calling it one of the must see dramas of this year then there must be something about Heartstopper. Plus it seems churlish or mean to begrudge such a joyful production its prominence amongst the darker, sombre fare that seems to comprise most of our most popular series these days. It’s not the most original take on its subject matter and some of the scenarios will be familiar yet just like a golden retriever it will defy you not to like it!



Top of the Pops 2 July 1987


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby

Before getting started. A quick thank you to the two posters who commented under last week's write up. Billy Smart linked to his very useful list of The Roxy performances, which you can find here https://drunkennessofthingsbeingvarious.blogspot.com/2017/08/the-roxy-tyne-tees-itv-1987-88.html

mumu03 added, “Worth mentioning that although Bates was the host of the 2/7/87 edition, it was originally planned to be Janice Long, as mentioned by BBC Genome + the advance listings it pulls from Radio Times:


It's believed that she cancelled due to her pregnancy; her shows certainly become more sporadic from this point onward, with only four more to come before her final TOTP (4/8/88 - the live All About Eve miming cockup one)”.  I think we're all looking forwards to the All About Eve episode. Except possibly for the people who've already watched it on BBC4 who are remembering it with fondness. (John- Excuse me, what's with all this banter? I've always assumed the comments are spam!!)

 Simon Bates: “Hi and welcome to Top of the Pops and with a little bit of luck we'll have some guests towards the end of the programme, and we have a new number one. Here's a band that hasn't been on the show for three years but they're storming back with When Smokey Sings. It's ABC.”

 [11] ABC: When Smokey Sings. Dear Martin Fry. When you are not looking, your drummer occasionally puts his foot up on the drums. It looks untidy. I think you should have a word. Yours, etc.


I've written another novel...


It’s called The Monster’s Tale and its for kids really so not sure if it will appeal to anyone reading this blog but I thought I’d mention it anyway. Its self - published on Amazon so the kindle version which is free comes out first! The paperback version for people like me who still buy physical media should be there in a day or two. Most people who self publish probably don’t reach a sixth book because it is a process that involves dedication and enthusiasm. And for most of us it’s something we do as well as a job and whatever family commitments you may have. Also its something  from which very few involved generate much money. Occasionally a self published author breaks through but if you start writing to become rich or famous I’d suggest you’d be better becoming a hang gliding opera singer or something!

Available in print or ebook on Amazon